Shame and Isolation:  these two states exacerbate mental unwellness.  Shame is essentially, believing in your own low self-worth; your ‘wrongness’; and often, shows your inability to forgive yourself – your sense that possibly you ought not to be forgiven.  If you are ashamed of yourself – your thoughts or your actions, it is very difficult to tell someone else.  There is the fear of being judged or scorned.  Isolation keeps you apart from others that may be able to give you a different perspective on your situation.

Shame and isolation are obstacles to healing because they block learning new ways of coping; of viewing the situation differently; or even of looking at yourself in a less harsh way.  The thing that keeps shame and isolation alive is your own belief that what you are thinking is true, is correct, and that there are no alternatives.  People close to you may also be telling you the same thing which only serves to keep things as they are.

Psychotherapy is one way of exploring these issues in a setting that is safe and free from judgment.  One of the tasks in psychotherapy is to identify and take responsibility for your role in your problems but let go of the immobilizing guilt or blame for things that you are not in fact responsible for.

When an individual is in depression/anxiety and/or a dysfunctional family system – it is hard to see the forest for the trees.  It seems easier to remain ashamed and isolated than to risk some unknown consequence for saying out loud the things that are weighing you down.

The biggest risk you now face is finding an individual you can trust.  It could be a therapist, a friend, a priest, or a family member.  It’s up to you to take that step.

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February 2, 2012

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